14 July 2010

" You stand in the line just to hit a new low" --Daniel Powter

[Grocery cart FAIL.]

The scene: A (non-Piggly Wiggly) grocery store

The players: Me, Hubs, and someone I'll call Clark the Clerk

We have a dozen items and make the fateful decision to go "self checkout".

The view: It is set up such that four self checkout stations are positioned behind one clerk station, should there be questions. *insert ominous foreshadow music here* The next free station happens to be close to the clerk. Husband takes the scanning part, I take the bagging part. The station appears to have two scanners, one in the scale/base and one perpendicular to this. It's also got one of those bag carousel doohickeys, where it's clear the bags are having more fun than we are.

All right, you've got enough information. On with the show.

Hubs scans the first item. To do this, he goes through the following:

1. Run item over base scanner, nothing happens.
2. Run item over base scanner again, nothing happens.
3. Run item in front of perpendicular scanner, nothing happens.
4. Curse.
5. Run item slowly over base scanner, nothing happens.
6. Wave the item in a variety of indiscriminate directions as if shaking a box of marbles.
7. Item and price come up on screen.

Hubs hands me the item which I place in a bag.

Screen reads: "Wait for attendant."

Hubs: What?! What happened? I scanned one item. What's wrong with this thing?

Me, turning to Clark the Clerk: Hi. It's saying "Wait for attendant." Do you know what's wrong with it?

Clark, not moving from his station: Yeah. It's messed up.

Me, animatedly: Honey, the gentleman here knows what's wrong with it. He says, "It's messed up."



Hubs: Maybe self check-out was a bad idea. How do I cancel out of this?

Screen no longer reads "Wait for attendant."

Hubs: Wait, it cleared.

Hubs scans three more items. I bag three more items.

Screen reads "Wait for attendant."

Hubs: #%!#$!

Clark, still not moving from his station: She's leaning on the bag carousel. That messes it up.

Me, jumping back faster than Mel Gibson's press rep.: I was? Oh. If I'd known that, I wouldn't have done it.

Clark: Yeah.



Hubs scans more items. I bag more items.

Hubs puts a bag of apricots on the scanner/scale base. It says to enter the PLU but there is no PLU. There is no search option on the screen. We turn to Clark.

Clark: Yeah, I can look that up. What have you got there?

Me: Apricots.

Clark: What?

Hubs, lifting bag for Clark to see: Apricots.

Clark: Paper cuts?

Yeah, we were low on paper cuts so we thought we'd stock up.

Me, slowly: A-pri-cots.

Clark, scanning laminated list in front of him: How do you spell that?

Me and hubs simultaneously: A, P, R, I, C, O, T, S.

Clark, lifting his finger from the middle of the list and heading back to the As: Oh, Apricots.

Hubs: Yes.

Clark: It's 4039.

Me: 4039. Thank you.

Hubs types in 4039.

Clark: I was all like duh.

Yes, you were exactly all like duh.

Me: Well... thanks.

Annnnnd, scene.

Questions du jour: Do you self checkout?* Does self checkout ever work for you without a problem?**

* I am not talking about what you do in the shower.

** I'm still not talking about what you do in the shower.***

*** You really should rinse everything down after that, you know.


HKW said...

I do not check-out, for the sake of what little sanity I have left.

Each time I've used self-checkout, the scene is very close to what you have described. Big box hardware, grocer...same experience.

I really admire your bravery for attempting to self-checkout with produce. I wouldn't dare.

Kate said...

I had stop once I got to this sentence: We have a dozen items and make the fateful decision to go "self checkout".

NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER GO TO SELF-CHECKOUT. You will always be the unexpected item in the bagging area, the machine will always malfunction, there will be no sales associates in sight to help you for at least five minutes, someone behind you will always be impatiently tapping their foot or rolling their eyes ...

Seriously, it's worth it for me to go to regular checkout just to keep my blood pressure and anxiety at normal levels.

The Bug said...

I LOVE self-checkout - but I think that there are people for whom (due to no fault of their own) it does not work. My husband is one of those people. He always has some kind of issue. Not me (or rarely). I don't like having to talk to people so I think self-checkout is the bomb.

froggy said...

I use it on occasion.
It likes me.
But -
never use it after a night of drinking. One at our store was just a little too snarky for one drunk guy at 1am and he beat it into $40k worth of damage.
Gives a whole new meaning to clean up on aisle 7.

Mac and Cheese said...

I use it if I have fewer than about 10 items, provided none of them are produce. I'm batting about 500 in clerk-free successes.

Cyndy said...

I prefer to go to the self checkout and hope for the best because if all goes well I won't have to interact with any of the clerks and have the kind of conversation you just described.

Sean said...

At the grocery store where I used to shop (I don't want to name names, but it rhymes with, um, what rhymes with Giant?), I used the self-checkout fairly often when I only had a few items. It never seemed to work when I tried to scan yogurt. Everything else was fine, but not yogurt.

Liebchen said...

I'm really not a fan of self-checkout unless it's absolutely necessary. (I don't know what scenario that would be, though.) And I've never found the clerks helpful, there.

Mike said...

Self checkout sucks. Every once in awhile I'll say to myself, maybe they've improved it. I'm always wrong.

Bilbo said...

Self-checkout was designed to give us a foretaste of hell. They're all bad, but the ones at CVS Pharmacies are worst - I have never, ever, not once bought anything there that the system didn't crash and I had to wait for an attendant - except, oh wait! - they fired most of the attendants because now they have self checkouts! AARRGGHH!!

Barbara said...

I have come around to self-checkout with the same fear and trepidation I had about pumping my own gas (remember when an attendant did it for you?) I inevitably need an attendant no matter how few things I have in my basket. I suppose it saves money, though. I also suppose that translates into more profit, not savings for the consumer...

Scotus said...

I put self-checkout lanes up there with the wheel and telephone in terms of man's great inventions. Anything that reduces human contact is aces in my book.

All of my bad experiences come from fellow shoppers, not store employees. Not long ago, I was the only person in line for the self-checkout. There were four stations, all in use. A woman came up and asked me which one I was in line for. I told her whichever one opened up first, as there was just one line. This annoyed her, because she was obviously hoping to somehow leapfrog ahead of me in line. I finally just waited until someone left, and I told her, "I'm in line for that one" and left her there.

Bowie Mike said...

I'll only use the self-checkout at Giant if I only have a few items. I absolutely hate the self-checkout at Home Depot, but sometimes it's the only option.

I think that one of the problems is the auto detection of items purchased. At Giant, you will have problems if you happen to bounce or shift the item on the belt and make "it" think that that you placed two items on the belt instead of one. The other problem is if the item is so light that "it" thinks that you didn't put anything on the belt. So I tend to slam down the light items. Or maybe there is no auto detection of items purchased, and I have fooled myself.

At the Home Depot I have not found any rhyme or reason to the problems. There are also many items that require the clerk to get involved. Go Lowes!

lacochran's evil twin said...

All: Thanks for weighing in. As pundits, you're aces.

Brutalism said...

Clark was definitely all like duh.

I won't even use the self-checkout anymore because this always happens. Lately, my grocery store issue is that I get in line behind 145-year olds who seem to forget that it is not 1974 and that you can get cash at ATMs and buy stamps online and do not have to handle FOURTEEN TRANSACTIONS IN THE CHECKOUT LINE!!!! (They also always pay by check and use a ton of coupons.

I feel better now. Thanks.